To Contain Monkeypox, We Should Learn From COVID-19 Response

MOnkeypox is different from COVID-19 in several ways. Monkeypox is a relatively uncommon disease that has spread to many parts of Central and Western Africa. There is already a vaccine that can prevent infection and research to show that monkeypox typically spreads via close or prolonged physical contact with an infectious person or their bodily fluids—meaning, based on what researchers know now, it probably won’t spread as widely or as fast as SARS-CoV-2, which can travel invisibly through the air.

Nonetheless, there has been some deja vu as monkeypox cases tick upward, reaching 780 in 27 non-endemic countries as of the World Health Organization’s latest update two days ago. A virus that is unknown to the majority of people is now spreading around the world. This virus is again spreading to people who don’t know anything about the disease or have never been in contact with it before. Some experts believe that the public-health authorities have missed opportunities to stop it.

As was the case with COVID-19 at the outbreak, Monkeypox is now being tested in the U.S. by the CDC. Joseph Osmundson was a New York University professor of biology and clinical assistant. He co-authored an article about Monkeypox. Times Opinion piece about monkeypox responses, states regulators should start planning now while there are few cases, in order to be prepared for any eventualities. It means hospitals and laboratories can now conduct their own testing instead of having everything sent to the CDC.

And in the meantime, it’s crucial to educate the public about signs of monkeypox and encourage health care providers to submit any possible cases to the CDC for testing, Osmundson says. “We really have no idea what the scale is right now,” he says. “We know it’s more than we’re detecting, but we have no idea how much more.”

Recently, Dr. Boghuma Kabisen Titanji from Emory University spoke out about her infectious disease practice. The AtlanticExperts should avoid falling for the monkeypox trap, which is assuming too much confidence in an epidemic they don’t know enough about. “If we’ve learned anything from COVID, it’s to have humility,” she said.

Some early statements about COVID-19—that masks wouldn’t work, for example—calcified into misinformation public-health authorities are still trying to fight. Experts must acknowledge their limitations and accept that the guidance they provide may be changed. Osmundson is encouraged that the CDC has largely referred to gay, bisexual and/or men who have sex as experts on monkeypox. Because those groups have been disproportionately affected by this virus so far. This may have been a learning from the COVID-19 epidemic, which highlighted the importance to tailor the message for the correct audience, especially when vaccines are involved.

Other public-health measures have been strengthened by the pandemic. Biden’s Administration asked for almost $90 billion in funding to fund things such as laboratory surveillance networks, and development of treatment and testing infrastructure. This request was made beginning in the fiscal year 2023. A June 2, interview was conducted with STAT, Dr. Raj Panjabi, who directs the White House’s global health security efforts, said his team is working on plans to scale up monkeypox testing and vaccine production if necessary, not just in the U.S. but also around the world.

This last point is critical. This last piece is crucial. It’s too soon to say how big a threat monkeypox will be. Osmundson believes that the moment is right to get involved. “Actions when it doesn’t seem that bad are the ones that have the largest effect,” he says.

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